My B.E.A.M Pages

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About me

and other stuff

Welcome to my B.E.A.M pages. I will assume most of you understand the BEAM principle, if not there are LOADS of pages dedicated to the subject. Just type BEAM or Mark Tilden (the father of BEAM) in a search engine such as Google and sit back and soak it all in!

I don’t profess to understand much myself and have relied on some excellent tutorials to produce what you see here.

Once you get started you will soon become a nocturnal creature hunched over a desk fiddling with some tiny

components (trust me!!) but it’s well worth the effort.

In some of the text you will find hyperlinks to relevant sites which I have found useful. (circuits, parts etc.)

Please browse these pages and let me know if you like anything, it’s always encouraging.  Enjoy!!     Mail Me


Last updated 13/09/2003

All photos taken with Casio QV-3000EX/ir and

© Gary Huston 2002 unless otherwise credited

Most circuit diagrams on this site are property of someone else. I hope no one minds me using them on my site but if anyone objects or would like a link to their site please mail me.


A simple FLED powered spinner. Definitely an indoor one this, if the light is too bright he locks up!

The motor is from a CD drive, a 4700 uf cap, 3904 , 3906 a 2.2k resistor (red, red, black, brown)

or (red, red, red) and a red FLED.

The flagpole is a piece of heat shrink and the flag is a piece of flat multi core cable from the CD drive.

The solar cell is a 24 x 33. The heat shrink over the fled makes it perform better.

Legs and cell support are straightened paper clip.


LOFTY. My first photopopper. He was started some time ago and not finished until recently as I couldn’t get the parts.

I freeformed the twin 1381J (2.7v Trigger) SE using Chiu-Yuan Fang’s excellent

Tutorial. He has Namiki 1701 pager motors attached by terry clips with the tops cut off soldered directly to the cap, and shod with heat shrink rubber for better traction and a bit more speed.

He is very tall (40mm, hence the name) because I put the 4700uf cap  directly    under the minute 24 x22 solar panel. His tail is just a small piece of coat hanger wire soldered to the terry clips.


FATBOY. My second popper. I used the same freeformed SE as for LOFTY but this time put the cap out the back like a droopy tail. This   arrangement made him only 21mm tall, but a bit wider at 58mm. The solar cell as you can see is much larger at 37 x33. The photodiodes on this one are right under the cell and it gives him a totally different approach to light seeking, he will seek out bright objects rather than the source of the light as Lofty does.


TREVOR the trimet. I had nothing to do one day and threw a few bits from the toolbox together. I started with some quite large (in size) 470uf caps from an old stereo, this wasn’t quite enough so I threw in a 4700uf under the solar cell, freeformed a 1381J SE onto the side of the CD drive motor added some heat shrink to the motor shaft and hey presto! The motor isn’t very efficient and he is quite slow but manages to wobble around the RJP quite happily.


I Have updated the SE to a “Miller” type with a 1381L (3.0v trigger). This has improved him no end and now he really rocks!!

See here for a schematic and freeform layout, and here for a nice bread boarded version.


LASERFLY. My favourite at the moment. He is a sort of MAGBOT with a difference. All the flappers I have seen so far use a VU mechanism or separate magnet and coil. LASERFLY uses the laser thingy from a (you’ve guessed it!) CD drive. I removed the laser and any unnecessary plastic to leave a nice little unit. I wanted him to look quite nice so I freeformed the SE and fitted it into the box he is mounted on. I changed the  resistor to a 1.5k (brown, green, red) or (brown, green, black, brown) to give a bit more of a kick but slightly less frequently. The small 24 x 22 cell also sits on the front slope of the box so it faces the sun a bit more. The tail and head are just beads from my local craft shop and the frame is copper wire from household lighting cable.

He has a wingspan of 160mm and flaps away in the sun quite happily  making a “tick” every time he pops.

Is this set-up unique? I haven’t seen one before. If you have please let me know.


SID. This sitter was inspired by the spider of Math Vos. I salvaged a weighted pager motor from a mobile phone battery. It was smaller than any I had at 16mm including the weight, by 6mm diameter, so I wanted to use it on its own. I freeformed a 1381G (2.4v Trigger) SE and glued it to the top of the 4700uf cap. Across the top of this I glued a fuse holder for the motor. I then bent the cap leads along the side of the cap and soldered them to the engine. The 22x24 cell was glued to the opposite side of the cap and the cell leads  soldered at the base of the leads. (if your confused see the photos) The legs are just garden wire used for tying up plants with the insulation removed and glued to the cap body under the cap leads. The joints are just bits of coloured insulation slid on to the wire. The eyes are just some redundant transistors. He doesn’t do much but depending how the legs are “tuned” he will move back or forward and makes a nice rattle in the RJP!


BLOCKHEAD. I’m really pleased with how well this head works, he tracks me when I’m moving from one side of my desk to another especially if I’m moving bits of paper about. The aesthetics of this one aren’t up to much but it is the first time I’ve used strip board and didn’t want to spend hours getting it to look good only to find it didn’t work!

I used Wilf Rigter’s circuit Solar Power Smart Head V2 found here at Wilber-Forces BEAMworld.

I tested the circuit on a breadboard first but it took four attempts before it worked. I don’t know why   because I made the circuit the same each time! The only thing I can think is that the connections on the breadboard may have been a bit “iffy”. The moral being “don’t give up try,try and try again until it works”

I learned a lot working on this bot, including the extensive use of socket pins, they make troubleshooting much easier. Click on the picture for building photos and more info.











RICK. The rocking miniball. I’ve always wanted to make one of these, and finally I had the time to do it.

He’s pretty standard really, I used the “Miller” SE with a 1381J (2.7v trigger). The motor is a Mabuchi FF-030-PN, as found at Solarbotics and Total Robots. The gearbox is from a wind up toy with a gear from an old cassette player pushed on to the small input shaft. The motor was then glued onto the bottom of the gearbox so the motor gear just meshed. An old small pulley, that fits tightly on the output shaft was then glued to the inside of one half of the 70mm miniball, this is the drive side. The shaft on the other side of the gearbox was very short so I fitted a small length of plastic tube to a small bore brass tube found on an old circuit board. This pushed quite tightly into the centre from the gear on a BG micro motor. This was glued to the other side of the miniball. When assembled the plastic tube just dropped over the gearbox shaft giving just enough support. Two 22x24 solar cells charge a 4700uf cap and in full sun he pops every couple of seconds rocking back and forth in between pops.



WALLY. The 2 motor walker. This is my latest bot and to date has taken the longest to complete. Mainly because I wanted to get it right. I put quite a lot of planning into the layout and circuit arrangement to try and minimise post build tinkering. I started by building the frame which was based around a piece of metal strip about 5/8 inch wide by 3 inches long with a very small turn up down the edges giving great strength for its weight. It also had a hole at each end which accepted the motor shafts perfectly! NO drilling!! This piece was salvaged from the inside of an old stereo case. I think it was used to strengthen the sides, so I have a couple more for other projects. I bent one end to about 30 degrees, soldered on the motors and added a couple of gumby legs. I put an old 9v battery in the middle as ballast and attached the motors via a couple of switches and flicked them back and forth to simulate walking. A couple of hours of bending gave quite an acceptable gate. Once I was happy with this I went on to the circuit. Click the image for more info.


PUMMERS. I got a bit bored of my other bots as I never seem to have enough room to let them really get going.. They just shuffle around the RJP knocking each other over or getting tangled in each others sensors or legs. So I decided to try some pummers which just sit and look pretty.

I have only done three, the hex pummer from solarbotics was my first, and then I searched around the net for some circuit designs to add to my own frames. Click one the image to the left for some more info on each.